Super outdated post I know - haven't been able to find the right time and blogging mojo to pen this one down till now.
No idea if its going to be a long one but here goes - gonna write as much as I can remember.
It was some sort of internal Top Seller Contest by my company to motivate us to sell tour products of Contiki to as many people as we can.
When HQ sent out this motivation email, I remembered thinking and knowing for sure, "Aiya, cannot get wan because I'm in Corporate Sales and not Tours and I don't specifically sell tour products" - so it was read email and done.
Never came across this at all anymore.
Then, I became in-charge in organizing a 2-days travel talk for Contiki (first Contiki talk in Penang) and really, the team managed to sell more than 10 pax. It really is the team effort and I would never have done it without them.
Needless to say, I was so shocked when I saw my name in the email - chosen to go alongside with a colleague from HQ on this trip - everything paid for. It was insane. I could not believe it.
I was excited yet at the same time, I was nervous about how I was gonna feel leaving Alex for a week (never been away from him for so long before please).
Of course I still say yes - an opportunity like this very hard to come by okay.
It was later on after the company had confirmed my flight tickets and all, that I became pregnant and the morning sickness was rolling on me so badly - lasted the entire trip yes.
Anyways, we decided to go on with it provided I skip all 'too active' activities there.
So, that is how this story begins. Hah.
ELEVENTH OF MAY
Penang-Doha via Qatar Airways 851
It was the hardest goodbye at the airport please. I should be feeling happy going on a holiday in Europe with all expenses paid for and all that - but my heart was the heaviest having to leave my two boys for a week. Who knew that being a mother changed my passion for travel? Only if I had to travel alone la that is - cannot imagine travelling without my babies anymore after this trip's experience.
TWELFTH OF MAY
Doha-Budapest via Qatar Airways 201
After spending a total of almost 20-hours of travelling (13-hours flying and 7-hours on transit), I was ready to get into bed and skip whatever program that Contiki had planned because my body was just ready to crash and I was not gonna risk the pregnancy.
But of course, this had to happen:
- the car that I have booked online a week prior to this trip overlooked our reservation and totally forgot about us (me and my KL colleague) so we ended up taking the airport shuttle service called miniBUD and only paid half of the online booked car (blessing in disguise).
- Then, the driver of this miniBUD dropped us at the wrong side of Budapest and went off and never came back so we had to grab a city taxi to get two lost Asian girls to the correct side of Budapest. Insane adventure please. We were supposed to reach to our hotel on the green side of the map but instead, we were dropped off at the red side - yes we considered walking but with the big luggages we had, no way man.
- We got to the hotel only to find out that we are not able to check into our rooms until about 330PM because the rooms were not ready. Other agents from other countries were mostly already there but just chilling at the lobby. I was half dead by then.
It was also Mothers' Day and I got too emo looking at photos and videos everyone was sharing via WhatsApp. First Mothers' Day and I was not around PFFT. Heh.
After giving us like 30-minutes to settle into our rooms and freshen up, we had to meet up again for a kick-start meeting and then after that, tour begins.
We had a walking tour around Budapest - followed by dinner on a cruise along the famous Danube River. Not super excited about the walking tour because I was really just so exhausted but thought I shouldn't miss it anyways.
Crashed on my bed like a baby the moment we got back to the hotel and slept like a log perhaps.
THIRTEENTH OF MAY
Daily breakfast provided in the hotel so I ate whatever my stomach could take and ready to see what day two brings in Budapest.
We were brought to the famous-must-see-must-go: Szechenyi Baths. If you ask me honestly, its really just probably another term for public swimming that you have to pay for. It is probably really nice during the cold season because the water is warm. It's called hot baths okay but we tried the water and that is not hot please. They have to go try Japan's onsen to know what hot really means.
Reven and I did not change into our swimsuit and get into the water because really, macam normal je - like normal swimming place. We sat at the side and lazed and people-watched.
My morning sickness kicked in and I fell asleep there at the Bath for a good 20-minutes while Reven continued to people-watched. Thanks Reven for taking care of me really! I was such an aunty during this trip - promise I am lot more fun when travelling okay.
Then, it was me time and we decided to wait for Wilson (Singapore) and Yaaseen (South Africa) and some others and walked together to wherever they had planned to explore. Better to follow the usuals than to walk on our own and missed out on some must-see right.
We went back to the hotel and rested before the evening plans by Contiki for a Goulash Cooking Demonstration Session and a visit to the Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar. Surprise surprise that I skipped the entire second half of the day's plan because I was really nauseous and not feeling great. I had cup noodles for dinner and went back to sleep till the morning.
These photos were taken from Reven and from my presentation heh.
FOURTEENTH OF MAY
Plitvice Lake, Croatia
We said goodbye to our hotel and en-route to Croatia - checked in to Hotel Bellevue after hours on the road. It was cold so it was pretty nice and cozy in the bus.
Because it was raining the whole day (and drizzling when we got there), they have decided to close the entrance to the bottom side of the National Park (boo!) because it was too wet and slippery and the water was getting higher and rougher. Such a bummer because that's where it gets really pretty and amazing.
So we only got to walk on the top side of the national park and looked down and still be amazed because it was really such a wow sight to catch. A must visit at Croatia for sure.
I didn't think I would get so amazed but the sight of it was really just breathtaking.
We had a simple 3-course-dinner and I was ready to crash (again) on the bed. I fell asleep so fast every night because of all the energy used and I think the baby inside also sucking all energy from me by just growing well inside.
One thing I know of this baby is she does not like European food, at all. Heh. Good thing I brought a lot of cup noodles - no choice ya.
FIFTEENTH-SEVENTEETH OF MAY
Plitvice - Makarska - Hvar - Split
The day that I feared the most is finally here - to go on-board the Katarina Line boat and spend the next few days on the boat itself.
Yes, everything also do on that boat.
So, I have motion-sickness, sea-sickness and on top of that all, I came bearing morning-sickness too! Imagine my excitement when I saw that the boat is not as huge as I wished it to be (yay not). I prayed (really hard).
They paired me with Minji this time (no longer with Reven) because Minji was also pregnant so we got the upper deck room (slightly bigger) and Reven got the lower deck.
Once on-board, we ate and freshen up and made our way to Makarska with a swim stop on the way. So, they just find a really nice spot and stopped the boat and most of them just jumped into the water. Us Asians? We sat and watched! Hah.
The water was ice cold apparently so none of us jumped. I obviously could not jump into the water so I basically sat and took videos.
So for the next few days, everytime we leave a town to another town, they will stop somewhere for swimming and chilling. And we ate mostly on-board the cruise - with the freshest ingredients that the Chef will get from the town.
We arrived at Makarska about noon time and docked and went down for a walk - nice weather with postcard view everywhere - it's like living in a postcard seriously. Too beautiful!
We had the pirates/sailor theme for our farewell Captain's dinner and I survived until after appetizer and then I went up to my room and crashed. The morning sickness got the best of me add with some hints of sea-sickness. I died. Heh.
I woke up after an hour and yes, gobbled down my last cup noodle and then crashed again while the rest of the crew went out to party.
Thankful that the bed was really soft and comfy.
EIGHTEENTH-NINETEENTH OF MAY
Split-Vienna via Croatian Airlines 444
Vienna-Doha via Qatar Airways 184
And the day finally came when we all said our goodbyes to each other and return to our reality. I was excited to go home because I was just having such bad home-sickness but totally not looking forward to the long hours of travelling.
I was supposed to spend 13-hours of flying and about 6-hours of transit in total to reach Penang but due a passenger's medical emergency from my flight to Doha, some of us missed our connecting direct flight to Penang and Qatar Airways graciously gave us meal vouchers (please next time give room for us to rest better) to compensate for the 'loss'.
Because of the timing, I had to wait an extra 5-hours at Doha Airport for my next flight to KL and then to catch another domestic flight to Penang. It should have been a direct from Doha to Penang but oh wells.
I remembered calling my mom at Doha Airport (it was midnight in Doha) and after talking to her on the phone, I cried and crashed in the restaurant's couch while hugging all my loose bags. I was just so exhausted and hungry. Thank God I got a whole row to myself on the flight back so I could lie down straight and be a boss. But then not long enough so I switched to the back middle row to occupy 4 seats all to myself. Hah.
Imagine the happiness when the crazy bunch came and surprised me at the airport and brought me to Pelita immediately! I went to bed so happy please although husband and son not around that night! Heh.
Thank you Contiki for this lovely trip - I am very sure that I would have enjoyed it more if not for the morning sickness! Grateful to have made friends from other countries - though not super close ya.
If you are aged between 18yo - 35 yo and you like to see the world and making new friends, you should consider going on at least one Contiki trip in your life - before you turn 36yo! It could be a life-changing experience for you and you may even find your soulmate there who knows!
Talk about international love hah.
But on a serious note, put in your bucket list: go on a Contiki trip (to anywhere!)
Till then, bye now.